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Summary:

Refocusing camera images after taking the picture is becoming all the rage on mobile devices. Google must agree since it has a new downloadable Google Camera app with a Lens Blur feature.

Google Camera

It seems like all of the newest camera apps are coming with a way to refocus the image after the fact and now Google is getting in on the game as well. The company introduced Google Camera for Android on Wednesday in the Google Play Store, which includes a new Lens Blur feature. Technically, Lens Blur is a way to add depth of field — or bokeh — to an image but the end result looks very similar to picture refocusing features found in other camera apps, as Google explains in the blog post announcement:

“Unlike a regular photo, Lens Blur lets you change the point or level of focus after the photo is taken. You can choose to make any object come into focus simply by tapping on it in the image. By changing the depth-of-field slider, you can simulate different aperture sizes, to achieve bokeh effects ranging from subtle to surreal (e.g., tilt-shift). The new image is rendered instantly, allowing you to see your changes in real time.”

The new Google Camera does this by creating a depth-map of each image using an algorithm.

 

lens blur mappingBy using the mapping data and simulating a thin lens, the software lets the user adjust focus and blur in real-time using a slider. The new camera app also includes existing modes for Panorama and 360-degree Photo Sphere images. Surprisingly, Google Camera doesn’t take the place of the native Android Camera app; at least it didn’t on my Moto X when I installed it.

And taking a picture in Lens Blur mode is a multistep process. First you take a normal picture, keeping your subject centered. Then Google Camera instructs you to raise your phone or tablet while still keeping your subject in the center; likely for additional depth information. After that when looking at the result, you’ll need to wait a few seconds for image processing; this took about 10 seconds on my phone. Finally, you can then drag a slider to add or remove blur to your photo, even choosing your own focal point. Here’s a quick example from my Moto X:

Google Camera

 

The new app is available for Google Android phones or tablets running Android 4.4 or better.

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  1. It became the default app on Nexus 5

    1. That makes sense because it’s pure Android software. I suspect that it won’t be the default camera app on any non-Nexus device. Interesting…. Thanks!

  2. The new camera version sucks!! It use to take amazing pictures and you could adjust the contrast. Now you can’t and the pictures are too dark! What a horrible ” update”!

    1. Yeah you can. Just enable “Manual Exposure” in the settings menu.

  3. Depth of field and bokeh are not the same… Bokeh is the result of out of focus light sources, and is an aesthetic quality. DOF is the range of in-focus elements in a photo.

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